’Tis the season… for a Hip Hop Family Christmas sequel! The Nixons, the royal clan of hip hop, are back in action, as daughter Jessica preps her nuptials. Of course, her mom Tina, played by MC Lyte, and her fiance's mom Nancy (Valarie Pettiford) are still at odds, but if there’s anything that can bring two families together, it’s definitely a wedding!

Keri Hilson resumes her role as Jessica, the buttoned-up TV executive who found love in the first film. EBONY sat down with Hilson to find out about returning to hip hop’s most entertaining family, working with real-life hip hop royalty, and why she’s ready for the Keri Hilson solo experience. 

EBONY: What inspired you to reprise your role for this sequel?

Keri Hilson: I would always come back to this. Filming can be very difficult and challenging, brutal even. But when you have a great cast where you genuinely connect and really like working together, that really helps. It makes the days lighter. If we get a third, fourth and fifth movie, I'm in. It's an easy yes for me.

Keri Hilson and Ne-Yo in Hip Hop Family Christmas Wedding VH1
Keri Hilson and Ne-Yo in Hip Hop Family Christmas Wedding. Image: courtesy of VH1.

What did we learn about Jessica and her family in the first film, Hip Hop Family Christmas? How has that changed?

In the first film, you meet the Nixon family: our parents and three kids, and we are a well-intended mess. Some of us are spoiled, bratty and arrogant. That would be my brother Blare. But he is continuing the family legacy with a music label. He signed our sister as one of his artists. My character chose not to follow the family legacy, she works in TV. She’s more...I won’t say the uptight sibling, I'll say that Jessica is guarded. She's not as loose or wild. We got to see a lot of that play out in the first film as she and her fiancé Jayson, played by Ne-Yo, found their way. This time, she just has to get married! We have the usual suspects, but we also have new characters like Jai, played by Cassie, and we tell their stories.

MC Lyte, who truly is a hip hop queen, plays your mom! 

It's awesome. She was fly in the first film and in this she's bringing it again. It's a strange dynamic. We've known each other in passing for so many years, we'd sit next to each other on planes if we happen to be flying at the same time, and we've had each other's numbers for probably 15 years now. We've known each other, but not in a close capacity like filming provides. Getting to know her, she is such a sweet woman and a good friend. In the first film, she was a little on the quiet side—she speaks when it's necessary. This year, she opened up a lot and we really got to know each other, and I got to see her beautiful energy, from the inside as well as out.

Bow Wow also stars in the film, and now you’re on tour together.

We are! It’s the Millennium tour and it’s been great. It's taxing but very gratifying. I’m just constantly in awe that I continue to knock things off my childhood self’s bucket list. To play arenas, I've gotten to do that a few times over now. Add these movies to the pile, and I'm a happy little girl every day. I wake up and get to create, express, play and portray. This is my dream life.

What are some of the classic songs that you're performing on tour?

I'm doing “Energy,” I'm doing “Slow Dance" and of course, “Pretty Girl Rock” and “Knock You Down." I’ve done enough records that I've written for others and collaborations, so we have like a karaoke section to see who remembers them. It's nostalgic and fun, and it’s making me want to go on my own tour to do the full gamut of the Keri Hilson experience.

A jam-packed schedule, which coincides with your birthday on December 5! What are your plans?

Oh, my girlfriends are gonna kill me. I have nothing planned. With the tour, it's a lot of giving and energy for 10- to 14,000 people every night. And this is a big birthday. I think it's going to be a vacation, and whoever can come and celebrate with me, come if you can!

Hip Hop Family Christmas Wedding airs Wednesday, November 30 at 8 pm on VH1.